CM Kejriwal withdraws from SC plea against arrest by ED


PTI, Mar 22, 2024, 1:32 PM IST

Source: PTI / File

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday withdrew from the Supreme Court his plea against arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in the excise policy-linked money laundering case, hours after the apex court said the petition would be heard during the day.

The apex court, which had around 10.45 am said the plea would be heard by a three-judge bench, was informed by Kejriwal’s counsel around 12.15 pm that they are withdrawing the petition and would contest the remand proceedings before the trial court.

The plea was initially mentioned for urgent hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud.

Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, said he was mentioning a matter of “some significance and urgency”.

“If this process goes on, I am very sorry to say, before the first vote is cast, a lot of senior leaders will be behind bars. I am imploring your lordships to take it up urgently either in the middle of the board or the end of the board,” Singhvi said.

The CJI said a special three-judge bench is convening in Justice Sanjiv Khanna’s court, and Singhvi can mention the matter before that bench.

“The special bench is over, almost,” the senior counsel said.

“Then you can go right away to Justice Khanna and it will be taken up,” the CJI said, adding, “Just go to that bench because that bench is available.”

“You can just mention that the Chief Justice has assigned it to Justice Sanjiv Khanna’s court,” Justice Chandrachud told Singhvi.

Singhvi then rushed to Justice Khanna’s court but the special three-judge bench, also comprising justices MM Sundresh and Bela M Trivedi, which had assembled to hear BRS leader K Kavitha’s plea challenging her arrest in the Delhi excise policy scam case and the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, was over by that time.

The senior counsel mentioned the matter before Justice Khanna, who was sitting in the regular bench along with Justice Dipankar Datta.

“We will assemble after the regular bench gets over in a while,” Justice Khanna said, adding that the plea would be heard by a three-judge bench.

Later in the day, Singhvi again mentioned the matter before Justice Khanna-led bench and said they would withdraw the petition.

The senior counsel said they would contest the remand proceedings before the trial court and then come back to the apex court with another petition.

“You may go there (before trial court). Just write an e-mail to the registry. We will see,” Justice Khanna said.

Singhvi said, “I will write a letter to the registry. I had to mention this again before this court so that it is convenient for your lordships.”

An hour later, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for ED, told a bench headed by Justice Khanna that he was not objecting to the withdrawal of the petition.

He said Kejriwal will now be produced before the trial court as he has withdrawn his plea from the apex court.

Mehta said he had instructed the probe agency not to do anything till the apex court is seized of Kejriwal’s plea.

“I am not objecting to the withdrawal (of petition). But it was pointed out by Singhvi that since the remand hearing was going on, he was not pressing it. That statement was factually incorrect and possibly intended to create prejudice,” Mehta told the bench.

“I had advised the ED that till the Supreme Court is seized of the matter, don’t do anything,” he said.

Justice Khanna told Mehta about what had transpired when Singhvi had mentioned the matter and said he would withdraw the petition.

“What Singhvi said was that he was making a written request withdrawing the petition. He also said that they will be arguing the matter when the accused is produced (before the trial court),” Justice Khanna said.

Mehta said, “The accused (Kejriwal) will now be produced (before the trial court), because the petition is withdrawn. Till it was before your lordships, I advised them (ED) not to do anything.”

“Now please produce,” Justice Khanna told Mehta.

Later, the ED produced Kejriwal before the Rouse Avenue court here and sought his 10-day custody in the case.

Kejriwal had moved the Supreme Court late Thursday after the ED arrested him hours after the Delhi High Court refused to grant him protection from any coercive action by the agency.

Kejriwal’s name has been mentioned multiple times in the charge sheets filed by the ED. The agency has alleged that the accused were in touch with Kejriwal for formulating the excise policy that resulted in undue benefits to them in return for which they paid kickbacks to the AAP.

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